The Book, The Pilot, and his Drone

By: Susan W. Smith

Volume 18, Issue 2, February 2023

We start with the Book – written by Mike Hill (known as Aerosnapper) and Paul Wash – which will be published and available for purchase by March 2023.

This editor is well aware of the interest generated by the building of Third Crossing, the Waaban Crossing bridge, in Kingston, ON. At first, there was a small following, but it didn’t take long for locals on both sides of the Cataraqui River to realize that the crossing would be finished in their lifetime! The book answers the “Who, Why, How, and When” questions about the building of the bridge through photographs.

The authors are proud that the 96-page book is being locally printed in hardcover 12x9" format, with more than 200 full-colour images. Unfortunately, there are only 500 copies being printed. So, of course, the main question is, “How do I get one?”

The cost is $50 (CAD) and you can easily reserve a copy by sending an e-mail to The authors emphasize that "Reservations will be dealt with in strict order of arrival and no guarantee of availability is made or implied."

TI Life congratulates the authors and is honoured to profile Mike Hill in this February issue and Paul Wash in our March issue. Also see February 2023, "Waaban Crossing is Open" by John Stencell.

The Pilot - Mike Hill (Aerosnapper) - and his Drone

Our first question to Mike (Aerosnapper) went back to the beginning.

TI Life: When did you start photography? As we know, you spent your career in the British Army before retiring and eventually moving to Canada and to Kingston. His answer was not a surprise.

Mike: I have had a lifelong interest in photography, and it was a part of my professional military service during many phases. The most notable was probably the time I spent with a group responsible for maintaining liaison with the Russian Forces in East Germany, during the Cold War. (BRIXMIS). I was an Army officer throughout my 34 year long career. I served in posts representing all three-Armed Services for the last ten years, with my final appointment as Assistant Defense Attaché at the British Embassy in Washington DC.

[Editor's note: there must be another TI Life article after learning about BRIXMIS, so stay tuned!]

TI Life: I told Mike that last summer, we were on the verandah of our cottage in the Admiralty Group and suddenly, we heard a gigantic bee or wasp flying by. Of course, we were surprised, and there were several expressions of, "What in the world was that?" Suddenly, a tiny speck rose out of Half Moon Bay, which we can see from our verandah, and the ‘Bug’ started flying towards us – FAST! As it got nearer, we realized it was not a bee, a wasp, or an eagle, but rather a Drone. We waved, blew kisses, since obviously the pilot knew us, and then we watched as it flew over to Lindsay Island and disappeared behind our trees, possibly to land on an anchored sailboat. Therefore, asking about Drones was a burning question for me.

Mike: I bought my first drone in about 2013, when the first recreational drones became widely available on the civilian market. It was a Phantom 1 quadcopter with no camera built in, but the ability to mount a GoPro camera. There was no way to manage the camera in flight. My current drone is a Mavic 3 from the same Chinese manufacturer. It carries two stabilized cameras that can be operated and controlled remotely and can capture video beyond UHD (5120 x 2700 pixels). The cameras are the 35mm equivalent of 24mm and 162mm (i.e. wide-angle and telephoto). It was actually easier to fly than the radio-controlled models that I had been very used to flying in the UK. Drones have remarkable system monitoring and fail-safe features, compared to typical radio-controlled models, and much greater ranges, which makes them safer and more reliable whilst flying within the visual line of sight mandated in Canada.

The subject of drones leads us on a new path of discovery. Mike is on the board of the Drone Pilot Association of Canada, with a mission, which is "To represent recreational and light commercial drone operators by promoting safety and a reasonable regulatory environment in Canada."

Mike was quick to explain that flying a drone is a privilege; the main objective for Mike and his confreres is to educate other users to be responsible. Part of that process is working with Transport Canada, since drone flying in Canada has become incredibly popular. Transport Canada reported in December last year that nearly 77,000 Canadians have earned basic certification. There’s likely an equal number of Canadians flying sub 250g drones. Examination and Certification are not required to fly these, making them very attractive.

Transport Canada's website has much information about why drone operation and regulation laws exist and how to abide by these laws. These laws were first introduced in 2019 for Drones, which are officially known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). Those weighing more than 250g/half pound, fall into the category that requires registration, and the pilot must complete an examination to be granted a Pilot Certificate.

Certainly, the popularity of purchasing and using drones in and around the Thousand Islands will only grow this coming summer. Both Canada and the US have separate rules, and it behooves all new purchasers to be aware of these regulations, not only for the safety of your drone and the people around you, but also for privacy regulations.

Mike has two links that he highly recommends you review: and https://www.dronepilotassociationofca...

We asked Mike for some examples of his work, and we are very pleased to present them here.

Mike: One of the videos that I really enjoyed putting together dates back to 2012. I have volunteered at the world’s biggest airshow in Oshkosh, WI, for several years. video explains what the work is all about. [link for the Oshkosh show]

Aerosnapper: "This video, originally made in 2012, describes the work done by volunteers at the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual event known as Airventure - at Oshkosh in Wisconsin. If you love aeroplanes, this is the place to be in the last week of July each year."
I was pretty pleased with this more recent one, showing the charms of Simcoe Island
Aerosnapper: "Come visit one of the smallest Frontenac Islands in Lake Ontario, accessible only by boat. There's history, wildlife and one of the oldest lighthouses in the Western Hemisphere - how can you fail to come along for a look ?" Music from Epidemic Sound - Shadow Play by Anna Landström / Cameras by Canon and Hasselblad / Edited with FCPX

And finally, I asked Mike if he had a studio where all this magic is compiled. The answer is most likely one that is familiar to many of us.

Mike: Ah – if only I had a studio – I would be embarrassed to show you the desk at which I work – it’s very untidy. But, I can reveal that I use twin monitors to edit with Apple’s Final Cut Pro Video Editor and that I am awash in storage media. I have about 12-15 Terabytes of video from the Waaban Crossing project and thousands of still images.

And still photography? Yes, of course. Here are three very recent images captured from Wolfe Island.

This editor has some advice. Before you visit Mike Hill Aerosnapper YouTube Channel or his SmugMug page, and that is highly recommended - be sure your 'to-do' list is hidden. There are dozens of videos and so much to see that you will need time to check it all out. And if you're wondering what might come next - you'll see that this drone pilot is only just getting started! In fact, his followers are already watching the construction of the new Ferry Terminals for Wolfe Island and the new electric ferries quite closely.

By Susan W. Smith, Editor,

Posted in: Volume 18, Issue 2, February 2023, Book review, Artists

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